The Nature and Elements of Research Paradigms: Critical Race Theory


Written by Hannes Nel, B. Mil; BA Hons; MBL; D. Com (HRM); D. Phil (LPC)

Introduction. I will share 28 different paradigms that I regard as of importance to academic research, starting with behaviourism. Your comments, criticism, additions or endorsements of the articles will be appreciated. This is the third paradigm that I am discussing.

The purpose of sharing the articles with you is to also learn. After having done research and written for seven years, my book on qualitative research methodology is more or less ready for publication. However, the field of study is immensely vast and I need to do my utmost not to spread false information. So far I received no comments, feedback or suggestions on my articles. Please let me know if you find any mistakes or room for improvement.

Critical race theory. Critical race theory focuses on the application of critical theory in terms of race. It objects to the perception of racial power, especially where it is overtly or covertly supported by legislation, which renders it institutionalised.

Institutionalised racism is the structures, legislation, policies, practices and norms resulting in differential access and opportunities between racial groups. It manifests itself in any situation where needs exist, be it material, psychological, political, technological, social, economic or power needs. Intentional discrimination is opposed on all terrains where people are involved, for example universities, schools, employment in the private and public sectors, sport, etc.

Critical race theory favours an aggressive, race-conscious, approach to social transformation. Although the starting point is often simple racial equality, political and legislative transformation can be even more important objectives. Hidden motives can also be present, for example to gain the support of African countries for an international political agenda, opposition to the involvement of superpowers in the Middle East, South American countries, etc.

Not all critical race theory agendas are negative – it is also used to combat racial discrimination, facilitate the upliftment and growth of disadvantaged communities, redress of racial discrimination in the past, etc.

Although critical race theory originally applied to black people being discriminated against by whites, the opposite is also possible. Critical race theory also covers research where perceived discrimination of black people against white might call for investigation. In fact, it can be any group discriminating against the other who is often the minority in a country, region or community.

Critical race theory mostly investigates the achievement of racial emancipation and equality and can be addressed in any field of study, although social studies arguably embrace the paradigm the most. Historical and current incidents of racial discrimination are often used as evidence in support of a research problem or question or a research hypothesis.

Critical race theory is supported by structuralism, for example by investigating how legislation and cultural influences impact on the demography of a community. In this respect micro-aggression is often an element of research making use of a critical race theory perception. Micro-aggression can be found in any community where a certain group might feel anger and frustration because of the way the perceived or real privileged elite threaten them or because of one or more privileges that they have at the expense of the discriminated or that the discriminated are denied. This can erupt into riots, crime, or violence, which might well call for research.

Critical race theory can also be linked to critical theory, neoliberalism, feminism, radicalism, romanticism and post-structuralism.

Critical race theory is not always structured. Although it investigates legislation and cultural influences, the process can be aggressive and unstructured, sometimes including riotous advocacy campaigns.

Critical race theory is, unfortunately, sometimes used to achieve political agendas and to oppress minority or even majority groups that are vulnerable.

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About Hannes Nel

CEO and owner of Mentornet (Pty) Ltd. Academic background: B. Mil.; BA Honnours; MBL; D. Com; D. Phil Published 10 books with two more in the pipeline.

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